A replacement to the City Council seat vacated by the death of Councilman Warren Harhay will be appointed at a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in City Hall.
Harhay, who died Oct. 22 after a lengthy illness at the age of 76, was elected to the council in June 2017 and his term runs through June 2021.
According to state law, the council can either appoint a replacement within 30 days of the vacancy or hold a special election, which, according to city, could cost as much as $40,000.
During the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, the majority of residents who spoke expressed a desire for council to appoint a replacement rather than hold a special election.
“We don’t know what Warren would want, but I just hope we won’t spend any more money than we have to,” said Sharon Newby.
Rob Martin said he thought the appointment was the right way to go.
“It’s important to take what he brought to the council into who you appoint to the position,” he said.
Joan Paolini said she thought a special election was the way to go.
“In my opinion an election is needed … (it) would be better for the citizens to have their voice heard for who the new council member should be,” she said.
Councilwoman Tracy Folda said the majority of the communication she had received from residents was in favor of an appointment.
“I think the community is desiring an appointment, and I think that’s what we should do in this instance,” she said.
Councilwoman Claudia Bridges said it was “very important” to her not to hold an election because it could have a low turnout because it would be held during the holiday season as well as the appointment only being for 18 months.
Councilman James Howard Adams said he was not opposed to either option, but a large majority of the residents who talked to him said they wanted to have the new member appointed.
He also said it was worth noting that in June when the council had to fill the seat vacated by then Councilman Kiernan McManus when he was elected mayor, Harhay said he wanted to have a special election for that seat. Harhay said he thought a special election was the right choice for the process to be transparent because every current member of the council had been endorsed by the Boulder City Community Alliance.
Adams encouraged those interested in being appointed to submit a resume or letter explaining why they want the position for transparency’s sake.
McManus said he did not think a special election fits in with this situation.
“There seems to be a real effort here of some people … to reconstruct the NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes) to say, ‘Well you have to do it this way. If you’re not doing it that way, there’s something wrong with what you’re doing,” he said.
He said the state gives them two options, to appoint or to hold a special election, and they need to pick one. He also said the appointment process is transparent because the council meetings are open to the public and council members are available to meet with residents.
“But what’s not in the law is ‘Oh, you have to have all these people get questioned by the public,” he said. “It’s also not in the law that people have to send in a notice to anybody.”
McManus said he did not have an objection to anyone doing that, but there may be some people who are interested in the appointment and don’t want to send in a notice.
“I know who has contacted me. I don’t know who has contacted anyone else,” Bridges said. “I want to have equal access. To me it’s a real important part of this because there is always that underlying theme that a lot of people seem to have that there is not transparency in there. … I think it’s really important to understand that the decision has not been made. There’s been no discussion.”
Former City Councilman Rich Shuman and resident Neal Siniakin expressed a desire to be appointed to the vacant seat.
Siniakin said there is a perception by some people that a candidate has already been chosen. He said he received an email from a member of the Boulder City Community Alliance who said he was the most qualified but they were going to back Judy Hoskins for the position.
He said he took “umbrage that there is a political entity … influencing Boulder City politics through a Facebook page” and other media.
Any information sent in by people interested in serving on the council will be included in the agenda packet for Monday’s meeting.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.